Former international, Felix Owolabi, has expressed disgust over the non-resumption of all sporting activities in the country, especially the domestic football league when other countries worse hit by the COVID-19 pandemic has done so, even though without spectators.
The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) through the League Management Company had earlier revealed plans to commence the leagues either this month, or next, but the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 pandemic overruled it. The PTF blamed its decision to suspend contact sports on the increasing cases of Coronavirus.
“I think the media is not doing enough to inform the Federal Government on what should be done on this COVID-19 issue, as far as sports is concerned. If countries that are mostly affected by the pandemic can resume active sports, even with the high rate of deaths recorded, then I wonder why the government hasn’t allowed sports to return fully, especially football,” Owolabi told The Guardian.
“If the same Federal Government can allow people to come out and vote in an election as was done in Edo State, what stops it from giving the nod for sports to begin? And the government is even planning to hold another election in Ondo State. I’m angry over this because nobody is talking, everybody is just keeping quiet,” he lamented.
The ex-international continued: “Is it not shameful to hear everyone discussing the results of matches played in the English Premier League, Italian Serie A, Spanish La Liga, the Bundesliga and all that. All these leagues do not concern me, my concern, interest lies in our domestic leagues and not foreign leagues where people there don’t know anything about ours.
“Recently, I was at a sports ministry where I told the commissioner to allow this contact sports to begin to open. Apart from Enyimba of Aba, may be MFM, Kano Pillars, Akwa United, which other club attracts between 10, 000 and 15, 000 spectators at any stadium in Nigeria today? So, why would they say that until Coronavirus is over there won’t be football for us to watch? He queried.
“Are we doing anything reasonable at all with our stance on sports because of COVID-19? I don’t think so, I think we are setting a wrong precedence. I am not interested in the foreign leagues; I am only interested in our local leagues. The reason why things are like this is that there is no pressure on the Federal Government, and I think that the media is not doing enough to enlighten the government,” Owolabi stated.